Kandahar is a city in southern Afghanistan, capital of Kandahar province. The province has 567,000 people (based on 1979 data), while the city has around 200,000 (based on a 1989 estimate). It is the second largest city in Afghanistan and main trading centre, especially for agricultural produce. It has an international airport and extensive road links. Together with Peshawar, Kandahar is the main city of the Pushtu people.
Kandahar was founded in the 4th century BC by Alexander the Great, near the site of the ancient city of Mundigak (established around 3000 BC). The city has been a frequent target for conquest due to it's strategic location in central Asia. It was conquered by Arabs (7th century), Turkic Ghaznavids (10th century), Genghiz Khan (12th century), and Timur (1383). Babur, founder of the Mughal empire, took Kandahar in the 16th century. It fell into truly Afghan hands in 1708 when Mir Wais conquered the town. He died in 1715 and from 1738-1747 the city was temporarily in the hands of Nadir Shah. Ahmad Shah Durrani, the founder of Afghanistan, took the city in 1747 and made it the capital (1748) of his new kingdom. The (now) old city was laid out by Ahmad Shah and is dominated by his mausoleum. In the 1780s however the capital was transfered to Kabul. British forces occupied the city during the First Afghan War (1839-1842) and from 1879 to 1881.
During the Soviet occupation of 1979-1989, Kandahar was firmly under Soviet command. Following the Soviet withdrawal it changed hands several times. It was towards the end of 1994 that the Taliban emerged from the city and set out to conquer the south, east and centre of the country; the city is still the 'spiritual' home of the movement.